Friday, July 11, 2008

Well Building Begins!!!

Email from Nan 7.11.08

Hey. Well work has begun- several villages have started collectingsand and rocks, although i don't know at all what's up in kakuka cuz ihaven't been across the river in a while. Sorry i haven't been usingthe amazing blog you put together, and i'll take pictures startingthis week! Hope all is well with you. My rabbits are reproducing welland titus and i are going to try to make charcoal from corn cobs! - Nan

Monday, June 16, 2008

Zam Wells...FUNDED!!!!

From what I can tell, the Zambia Wells Project has been successfully FUNDED!!! We had about $180 to raise as of a week ago, and when I checked the website today, the project had been taken off the list of those still awaiting funding.

I would like to sincerely thank all of you that have contributed to this project. Raising $2500 in one month is pretty incredible, and even better, these contributions were made from MANY people, giving what they could, as opposed to large donations from a few people.

This was a community helping out another community. Good stuff!

As the project moves into construction mode, I'll post updates here on the Zam Wells blog , and probably shoot a few more emails around.

On behalf of the Matelo community, Mwabombeni mukawai, na Natotela sana!!! Good work and thank you very much!

Think sustainability,

If you wanted to donate, but didn't have a chance, there are many other Peace Corps Partnership Grants that are awaiting funding. Browse through and pick one that looks good to you. Click here

In 1961 the Peace Corps was established by President John F. Kennedy to promote world peace and friendship.
It's mission has three goals.
To help the people of interested countries meet their need for trained men and women.
To promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
To promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Only $188.00 left to go!!!

We're super duper close to reaching the fundraising goal for the Wells project!!! Thanks to everyone for their support!!!

With only $188.00 to go, and its mid June.... this is looking good for allowing well construction to happen at the end of dry season this year!

Please pass on this info to your friends so we can raise this last little bit! Thanks so much!

3rd Goal

The Peace Corps has three goals,

1.) Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
2.) Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
3.)Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Since coming back to the US, I've been a bit slow on trying to work on goal three, but recently a friend of mine from college, Chris Hamilton, got the ball rolling for me. She is now an 8th grade teacher at Winnecunnet Middle School, in Hampton, NH. She invited me into her classes to talk about Zambia, and my experience there. It wound up being a really fun, interactive experience, and the kids seemed to enjoy the pictures, video etc. I was able to get a couple of them to dress up in traditional Zambian attire, and we even had a Zambian dance lesson.
Much to my surprise, Chris submitted a short article to the Hampton Union about the day, and you can read it here. Thanks alot Chris for a fun day, and for helping me accomplish the 3rd goal of Peace Corps. Good times indeed!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Whoa! Only $450 to go!!!

Wow, things are going really well. I think someone just donated $500, because we were at 950 a few days ago, and now we only have $450.00 to go!!! Anonymous donor, thankyou!!!!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Almost $1200.00 Raised!!!

The fund raising campaign is going great, with $1,191 dollars raised so far, that means we're almost half way to our goal, and we've raised that much in just two short weeks!. To all that have donated, thank you so much! For those of you that haven't there is still time, and pass a link to this blog onto your friends.

I got an email from Nan recently, and she said that things were going well, and that Matelo is very excited with the progress on the project!

Please pass this link to this blog on and keep the project going strong!

How the Wells are Built

So, before I get into the nitty gritty of how these wells are built, I should first bring you up to speed with how water is currently collected in the Matelo area.

Currently, women and men collect water at a number of sources in the area. Shallow Dip Wells, a few streams, and a borehole well at Matelo Basic School. This water is carried in Jerry Cans, as seen in this picture, or on the back of bicycles, for the families that can afford them. A full jerry can like the ones being carried in this photo weigh around 35 pounds each when full. Zambian Women (or "Bana Maio" in the local Bemba language, are tough!

Most residents that are not living close to Matelo Basic get their water from shallow dip wells. These are essentailly holes in the ground where the water table comes close to the surface.

These are often found near ant hills, which are plentiful in the area. As the ants displace clay and sand from the soil below, water percolates upward. In the right areas, water can be found not far beneath the soil around anthills, especially if they are near the floodplain of a stream.

To the right, these residents of Matelo are cleaning out a dip well that is used by many residents. Before the borehole was built at the school, this is where I got my water.

As the dry season wears on, many of these dip wells go dry, and those that do hold water are over used, making the water muddy. Also with many people gathering water from the same unprotected source, along with roaming animals, these water sources often become contaminated.

This dip well was located near my neighbor Lauren's site. These pictures were taken at the end of the dry season, when water was at its scarcist.

Some residents were still gathering water from these sources.

Most would boil this water, and then allow it to cool in calabashes (gourd containers) where the particulates would settle out. When processed in this manner, the water was much safer to drink, however, when not handled properly, it made it easy to get sick.

When the first rains come to Zambia in early November, these water sources quickly become contaminated, as there is nothing to prevent things from washing into these holes.

Most people try to find the cleanest sources of water in their areas, but many of these are still unprotected, open holes.

In November and December, people often fall ill with diharrea and other intestinal ailments. This happens at an especially critical time as well, as soon after the first rains, the soil must be tilled and seeds planted, so they can take advantange of the full length of the rainy season. This is also when family's food supplies are at their lowest. November and December are difficult times for many in the Matelo area, however as the rainy season progresses, things get better, and yes, the water gets cleaner.

In 2006, a borehole well was installed at Matelo Basic School. This was installed by the Zambian government, as an initiative to install borehole wells at all government schools in the country.

These are the type of wells often funded and installed by many international non profit groups.

This borehole pumped fresh clean water from deep in the ground. During the rainy season, villagers traveled significant distances to pump water from this well.

Unfortunately these wells are very expensive to create ($3,000-$15,000 each depending on location). Also they are installed with machinery not found in the village, and feature supplies not found in the village.

When a simple rubber bushing wears out, these wells are often left unusuable for months or even years, as villagers do not have the tools, or knowledge needed to fix these wells. They must wait until a government agency or NGO returns to fix it. During that time period, villagers often go back to drawing water from unprotected sources.

Also, schools are very distant from one another. In the Matelo area, schools are 5-8 miles apart. People that live within a quarter mile of the school tend to utilize the borehole well, those that are futher away, resort to dip wells and streams

When my Peace Corps neighbor Lauren and I arrived in the Matelo and Paul Mambilima areas, outside of Mansa Zambia, we came with skills focused on teaching about sustainable agricutluture and forestry, and Lauren, HIV AIDS. We began our service concentrating on these issues, but very quickly, the community made it known that securing clean drinking water was the immediate need in the area.

So our focuses shifted a bit during our service. I continued to teach about sustainable agriculture and forestry, and Lauren HIV/AIDS, but we also joined forces to tackle the issue of establishing a path to clean drinking water in the area.

The first step in this process was revolved around educating the area about how they themselves could take charge of this process. The community, Lauren and I worked hard to secure grant funding for a week-long Water and Sanitation Health Education Workshop (WASHE).

When translated from Bemba, this reads "Welcome everyne to the WASHE T.O.T."

T.O.T. Stands for "Training of Trainers"

This is what Peace Corps is all about. Teaching other people how to help themselves. This creates a local knowledge base. These people that we trained were community leaders in the area, and their responsibility was to take the knowledge they gained from the workshop, and teach others in the community.

During this workshop, we covered a number of topics from proper handwashing techniques, to the use of Clorin (an inexpensive clorine that can be added to water collected from dip wells, that kills all the bacteria in the water).

We also did some prepwork in some surrounding villages to have two hand-dug wills dug.

Digging the Well

These wells are dug in clay soils, that are firmly settled. This allows diggers to dig very deeply, safely.
The wells are usually about three and half feet wide, and dug deep enough to reach the water table. Some of these wells go down 30 feet. Beyond that, things can rapidly get unstable, so they usually go no deeper.
This may look bizzare, but this was the way wells were dug all over the world up until the advent of modern drilling in the 1900s.

The digger usually climbs down a rope, or foot holds are carved into the sides of the well, and they climb down that way. The soil is hauled up to the top by the bucketload.
These well holes are dug at the end of the rainy season (October), when the soil is the driest and the water table the lowest. That way the hole is as deep as possible. Ususally they are dug until the digger is calf deep in water. At that point, water will begin to percolate into the well from the surround soil, often slowly filling the bottom of the well with 3-5 feet of clean groundwater.
Here's two videos that will give you a better idea of the digging process.

Building the Top of the Well
The well digging was completed a few weeks before the start of the WASHE workshop. For this workshop we were assisted by the hard work of Mr Patrick Kampangwe. He is seen below leading the intro to the well cap building process.

Talking about the well cap construction process...
The well cap is what makes this well a protected well this means that the cap helps prevent contaminants from entering the well and spoiling the water. It also allows the well to be "locked" when the water if the water were to become unsafe to drink. The cap also prevents people and animals from falling into the well.

Bricks molded and burned by the community. These bricks form the substructure of the well cap.

Stones collected from the area then fill the gaps between the bricks.

Cement is used to join the bricks and stones together.

As all Zambian houses are built from molded bricks that they make themselves, many Zambians are expert bricklayers.

Bana Chola, a local school teacher jumps in on the mortaring

Bana Jenipher Chiwele.

The sides of the well cap cure quickly, and soil is mounded around the cap so that the well skirt and runway can be built.

Again, rocks are interspersed amongst bricks for the skirt. The skirt prevents water from settling into the well hole, and keep this soil stable. The skirt is curved up at the edges so that the water funnels down the runway to the drain that is located about 15 feet from the well hole.

The Skirt is covered with a thin layer of cement to make it water tight, and the runway is built with bricks and small stones. That too is then covered with a thin layer of cement.

Here's a quick video of everybody working on the top of the well... as you can see, it's a community

The completed base of the well looks alot like a guitar!

Building the Well Cap
The well hole cover is constructed using bricks , 8 feet of rebar steel, and cement.

First, the top of the well is measured, and a replica of that size is outlined on the clay ground.
Bricks are then layed around the circumerence. These bricks will create a "form" used to make the cement cap of the well.

The metal well cap lid, which is built by metal workers in the Mansa market is placed in the center, and this allows the rebar to be layed across and cut to the appropriate sizes.

When the bricks are arranged correctly along with the metal lid, and the rebar is cut to length.
Sand is then laid across the bottom of the circle.
This sand will provide a clean surface to eventually lift the new cap off the ground. The cement will not bind to the ground, only to the first half inch of sand.

Rebar laid in place, and sand adjusted.

Cement is then added atop the rebar and sand..

Then it is smoothed, leaving about a quarter inch of brick above on the sides. This makes it easier to chip the bricks away from the cap once the cap has cured.

The cap is left to cure for a week.

Then the cap is ready to be moved. After chipping away the bricks, eight to ten people gather around and lift the cap off the sand, and place it on top of the well.

After a long day of work, we had alot of be proud of. The cap was placed on the well about a week later, and after a thoughrough cleaning with some clorin, the the well was ready to be used about a week later.
The labor and knowledge base needed to create these wells now exists in Matelo, along with almost all the supplies needed to build them.
Only cement, the metal cap, rebar, a rope and a bucket must be bought in town.
This translates into wells that cost 1/6th to 1/20th the cost of drilled well. Plus the knowledge to build and maintain these wells is kept in the village. Also repairs are inexpensive, and can be performed by the people in the village.
This translates into sustainable wells... wells that can be used, maintained and recreated as needed, forever.

Here's two shots of Lauren and one of her Neigbors using the well in the rainy season. Good clean water! Yeeeeeha! Mwabombeni Mukwai! (Good work!)

Since the completion of this workshop in 2006, the workshop attendees have gone on to teach these improved water and santiation techniques to hundereds of people in the surrounding area. With this education, a groundswell of interest and participation built over the course of the year, and more and more people recieved this information and education.
As a result, fewer people are getting sick in the area, and the community has organized to build a number of new wells in the area.
With your support, it can happen!